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Top PPC Tools & Resources from a PPC Guru

Mona Elesseily of Page Zero Media has one of the highest profiles of any PPC practitioner I know. She is a featured speaker at Internet Marketing conferences around the world (Search Engine Strategies, SMX East and West, Ad:Tech, WebmasterWorld PubCon Vegas), a columnist for Search Engine Land and author of a forthcoming book on Search Marketing. -LC

But, more importantly than talking the talk at high-profile trade shows, Mona walks the walk. She eats, sleeps and breathes PPC every day for clients across a wide range of industries.

The tools and resources below are the same ones Mona herself uses. She points out exactly which features she finds useful and, specifically, which resources on each site help her stay on top of her industry.

Now, without further ado, here's Mona Elesseily with her 9 picks for PPC tools and resources. Take it awaaaay, ME...

1. Google AdWords Editor

This neat application allows you to make changes in your AdWords account without being logged in. It's great to use when you don't have a connection (on a plane, for example). It also makes some AdWords-related tasks easier than doing them directly in the interface.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Move campaign elements. Easily move campaigns, ad groups, keywords and ads using AdWords Editor. The copy-and-paste process isn't exactly intuitive in Editor; but, once you get the hang of it, it's fairly straightforward and worth its weight in gold.
  • Import and export elements. This is one of the easiest and fastest ways to export elements to Yahoo! or MSN without paying for third-party software.
  • Find-and-replace function (plus other append tools). This tool makes it easy to make bulk adjustments to keywords, ad copy or URL information.
  • Find spelling mistakes. Editor shows the red squiggly lines under misspelled or suspicious-looking words (similar to MS Word). Note: The AdWords interface doesn't catch spelling errors when you're creating ads directly in the interface.
  • Find duplicate keywords. When accounts get large, it can be tough to remember if you've used a keyword before. So, you can use this tool to avoid redundancy.

2. ProtoShare

ProtoShare is a collaborative Website development tool. It improves overall team communication and allows all stakeholders (in our case, clients, marketing and design) to comment on test Web pages before deploying Web development resources, which reduces rework later. It's simple to use and browser-based and works in real time. At time of writing, a complimentary 30-day trial was available.

3. Microsoft adCenter Labs

Microsoft adCenter Labs has a bunch of neat tools that can be used to gain insight into the way people search. One of my favorites is the search funnel tool, which allows users to see terms that were searched before or after a particular query.

For the term "sofa," the tool indicated that some of the queries that came after were "furniture," "living room furniture," "lazyboy," "couch" and "eBay." The tool gives you ideas for other terms to include in campaigns for more keyword breadth.

4. Clusty

To enhance keyword research and find additional keywords, I like to use clustering engines like Clusty. Clustering engines group search results into folder topics and can help greatly expand the breadth of a campaign.

Take a look at the following example. Using Clusty.com, the phrase "Kitchen Aid blender part" gave me the following results:

Food processor
Immersion blender
Replacement part

Instead of honing in on "Kitchen Aid blender parts," these results provided me with ideas I used to create the following ad groups:

Kitchen Aid appliance parts
Kitchen Aid mixer parts
Kitchen Aid processor parts
Kitchen Aid replacement parts

5. Google Insights for Search

With Google Insights for Search, you can compare search-volume patterns across specific regions, categories, and time frames. Here are a couple of my favorites:

  • The Seasonality tool allows advertisers to anticipate demand for business at particular times of the year. It can show trends back to 2004 at the same time.
  • Geographic Distribution allows advertisers to see search-volume distribution over cities and regions. With this tool, I learned that "football" was more popular in the UK, while "basketball" was more popular in the US. This could be important information if you were selling sports apparel or equipment in a number of international markets.

6. Google Website Optimizer

Google now offers a gratis testing and site-page optimization tool. After some intelligent planning (Google suggests places to get started) and selecting page design (either multivariate or a simple A/B setup), you can be well on your way to testing landing pages or regular site pages.

Here are a couple of benefits of using Website Optimizer:

  • Projections of time to completion of tests and other aids mean that you don't have to be a statistician to pursue the advanced testing.
  • The reporting is powerful. Both the reporting and the rotation functions work on their own, without any special, clever effort from the user.

You'll need to spend some time to install the code. It's not difficult, but it requires some technical expertise.

7. Acquisio

Acquisio SEARCH is a white-label productivity platform designed specifically for SEM agencies. Here are some advantages of using this service:

  • It creates campaigns across all search engines from one interface.
  • It has keyword recommendation tools and campaign creation wizards.
  • It has a cross-engine bulk editing tool (similar to AdWords Editor) for the Big Three search engines: MSN, Yahoo! and Google.
  • Its reports, charts and graphs are customizable, with a section to add specific comments.
  • Pricing is scaled for various sized companies.

Disclosure: Acquisio is an advertiser in Web Digest For Marketers.

8. WebmasterWorld Forum

WebmasterWorld is a forum chock-full of useful PPC information. For information on PPC advertising across all engines, I frequent the areas listed below. This is also a great place to post PPC-related questions.

When I was getting started in this business, I visited these sites to get information on complicated issues like match-typing for each of the Big Three PPC engines. Forum moderators are pretty knowledgeable.

I frequent these areas on WebmasterWorld Forum:

  • MSN/Microsoft adCenter: News and discussion around MSN adCenter
  • Yahoo! Search Marketing Pay-Per-Click Advertising: Information on Y!SM and the Yahoo Panama system.
  • Google AdWords: Google AdWords news, AdWords API, and general Google PPC topics.
  • Pay-per-Click Engines: General PPC topics and alternative engines such as Kanoodle.

9. Search Engine Land

Search Engine Land is a news and information site covering search engine marketing, searching issues and the search engine industry. The site is led by veteran journalist Danny Sullivan, formerly affiliated with Search Engine Watch.

Specifically, the paid-search column is an excellent place to learn paid-search strategies, as well as a way to get insight on many tricky paid-search issues like bid management, landing pages, tracking issues, quality score considerations and a whole lot more.


Want more PPC Tools and Resources? Go to "PPC Advertising Resources" at Larry Chase's Internet Marketing Resource Center.